Princess Cinnamon sat in her room, looking restless. Next to her was her bag, with only few of her belongings and some warm clothes the captain gave her. She could hear Coco’s footstep getting closer and closer, and she didn’t even know whether she should share her thought or not.
“Princess!” Coco opened the door, and closed it again quickly.
“I’ve told you to stop calling me princess!” Princess Cinnamon sighed.
“I’ve just talked to the captain, and he said he would be able to help us to find a place in the Harbour City in the Kingdom of Music. Isn’t that a good thing?” Coco looked so happy and ignored whatever protest came from the princess.
The Princess sighed again. She shook her head slowly, and regretfully. She knew that the captain must have told her about the Harbour City of the Kingdom of Music. It is the city where people from all around the world is gathered. It is the lively, crowded and very big – and as Banjo said, the big cities always have this kind of attraction. But Princess Cinnamon didn’t want to go there. She had her own destination.
“What? Why are you shaking your head like that?” Coco suddenly felt uncomfortable with the lack of excitement which was so unexpected coming from someone who abandoned the life inside the castle wall to chase an adventure.
“I don’t want to go to the Harbour City,” said Princess Cinnamon.
“But we are going to disembark there,” Coco stated the obvious, merely because she did not know anything else to say.
“I know, but I don’t want to stay at the Harbour City. I am going there…” Princess Cinnamon gave Coco the banjo she had from Banjo years ago.
“You’re going to… a banjo?” Coco didn’t get the riddle.
“Look behind the banjo, you can see the city where it was made printed there,” Princess Cinnamon rolled her eyes as if what she had just said was so obvious.
“Right… The Fortress?”
“Yes, it was Banjo’s hometown, and he said he was going to go back there. The city should be surrounded by walls, and looks like a fortress. It used to be a fortress, Banjo told me…”
“Wait…” Coco interrupt before the princess started to tell her the whole story about The Fortress City.
“So we’re going to this land because you want to meet that outcast?” Coco suddenly snapped. She could not comprehend what was going on in her princess’s head.
“Of course not, but I want to go there, just because… I am not even sure if Banjo is still there. I just…”
“Why not Harbour City? What makes it different? It is in the same land…”
“Banjo said the Fortress City is so much different than the city we know, Coco. If Harbour City is like the town center of the kingdom, The Fortress City is… different.”
Coco did not bother to hide her unhappiness. Going to a place that’s thousands miles away from home is bad enough. Why do this little spoiled brat had to make it even harder by trying to find a place that was completely different from what they’re already familiar with.
“I understand if you don’t want to do this with me. I am grateful that you’re here with me today, but…”
“But?” Coco raised her left eyebrow, what she always does whenever she suspected something really annoying was coming.
“But if you don’t want to go to the Fortress City with me, and you’d rather go home or stay at the Harbour City, I am totally understand,” Princess Cinnamon tried to put no pressure at all. She knew that Coco still had this sense of responsibility of her well being, and it would be so difficult for her to say no and leave the princess alone in a world full with strangers.
“Oh would you please shut it up,” Coco snapped again.
“Coco, you don’t have to feel obligated…”
“Yes. Yes. I know. You’re not my princess anymore and I don’t have to stay with you, but what if it is what I want to do?”
Lying and not telling the truth are two different thing for Coco. She, for instance had never told the princess about the extra desserts Bull always managed to smuggled for her every evening after dinner. Or the fact that she could make the other servants to do her chores by ‘borrowing’ the princess’ name, and basically if she did it very carefully without colliding the tasks from the King or Queen, nobody would raise any question. How convenient. And convenient is the only purpose of those little cheatings. It’s not harmful, no one would get hurt.
Constructing a well schemed lie is so much different. It is a big story, supported by the other small stories to make it look believable. It could go wrong anytime and that was exactly what Coco did not want to make happen. She did not know what she had betted, but she knew what she might lose if things went not exactly what she planned. But the thing that bothered her the most was not the risk she’s facing, but the guilt she’s feeling.
How does guilt feel?
It’s the sickness, worse than the seasickness that she felt in the stomach whenever she walked soundlessly out from their cabin, in the middle of the night. It’s the shiver she experienced every time she closed the door very carefully, making sure that it wouldn’t wake the princess up. It is the frustrating hour she spent to justify what she did because she needed to feel better about it. Telling herself it’s for a greater good.
He told her the same.
But how much she could believe a man she only met once in her life? A man who claimed to help and not to take opportunity in their adversity. A man who told her she had done the right thing.
He told her that when all of the princess act could be controlled again, she would be back to the palace. And Coco would once again sleep in a nice warm bed, and meet Bull who’s going to make the bed even warmer. She would be able to spend the days reading books or walking in the town, without having to worry about the storm and the sea. He told her that everything would be back to normal.
Coco just didn’t know right there when he said it, that normal was not exactly what she wanted. She enjoyed this abnormality, and started to understand why Princess Cinnamon wanted this. And the last thing she wanted to do was to crush the dream of her princess, except that was the duty she carried the first day she sailed to the sea.
“Remember Coco, you’re helping her by doing this.” She remembered condescending tone, and the responsibility which was passed to her with this short sentence.
Coco closed the door silently. She walked rather hurriedly, knowing she was few minutes late from the agreed time. Once in awhile she would look back, making sure that nobody was following her, and keep telling to herself that the princess she was serving has fallen asleep. Safe and sound.
That man has been waiting for her there. He did not look worried, angry nor impatient. In fact, he did not show her any emotions. He greeted her formally, and checked in her like what he has been doing every day since last week.
“You know what? I don’t think I need to report to you every single day. I’ve told you it was a false alarm,” Coco finally said after reporting.
The man smiled understandingly. He shrugged and sighed.
“Just like you, I’m just doing what I was asked to do. You cannot undo what has happened. You sent the dove, you triggered the alarm, and I’m here to make sure everything would be okay,” his smiled looked a little bit bitter now.
Coco sighed with him. She looked very sorry. Not only for her but for everybody who are involved because of her idiocy. She should have never sent that bloody dove.
But what a helpless servant can do? She was panic and scared and there’s a chance that the one that she cared a lot would just die in the middle of the ocean. A dove was released to send a message to the palace, which means the princess is in danger. So last week when the ship was reloading food supply in a port a man came and introduced himself to coco as the guard the queen sent to eye both of the girls. He carried not only responsibility to protect the two young ladies, but also an instruction from his highness to get daily report about everything.
“How do I know you are not a poser?” Coco squinted her eyes after Spike, that’s him according to his introduction to Coco.
So Spike showed her two letters. One of them she knew very well. She knew every word which was written there, because it was her letter to the queen. The other one was from the queen, with the crown stamp and everything. The message was short, just like how queen always deliver her commands:
“This is Spike your guard. Report to him everyday about her status, don’t let her know. Bring her back soon.”
Pretty simple. No pressure.